My plan just changed a wee bit here in Spain. If you’re not aware, I came to Spain with a very specific mission: Create a Spanish course to help tourists thrive in the 5 most common situations they find themselves in:
- Asking directions in the streets
- Finding and checking into a hostel or hotel
- Eating in a restaurant and tapas bar
- Getting bus, train, tram and taxi
I got a special pair of glasses with an HD camera and I’m going around filming myself interacting with REAL people in those 5 situations. Check out the glasses I’m using:
In order to keep it small and very "digestible" for my future customers my strategy was to limit the course to just those 5 specific situations, using only 5-10 words for each situation. If the person you’re talking to uses words you don’t know, you get them "back on track" with questions. For example:
You: Donde esta el mercado? (Where is the market?)
Them: [email protected] (something you don’t understand)
You: Esa direccion? (that direction? you point)
You: Cuantas calles? (how many streets from here?)
Them: Tres (three)
Then you walk in the direction they pointed for 3 streets and ask again until you find what you’re looking for. Simple and effective, right? Of course if the directions were more complicated, you should ask multiple times in order to ensure accuracy.
But something happened yesterday. I’d been meaning to sit down for weeks to plan the course…but had been procrastinating like I’m known to do. I think (know) what kept me from doing it was the fact that I knew limiting each situation to only 5-10 words was easy for some situations and harder for others but unnatural for ALL. It was kinda stressin’ me out.
Yesterday afternoon, I finally sat down to get it done. In the background the latest video from my favorite polyglot, Benny Lewis (Fluent in 3 Months) was playing. In this video he speaks pretty well in Arabic even though he just started learning it 2 weeks ago.
Starting to focus a little, I began listing the situations for my course…and then some. I kept going and going. Way further than five. Buying stuff in the market. The supermarket. SIM card. Post cards. Stamps. Renting a car. All such common situations you find yourself in as a traveler. So important to know if you want to truly THRIVE–save time, save money, less stress.
But it’s too much. Too many situations. With five situations, there was a chance you could learn my system before your trip to Spain. But with 15? Not gonna happen. EVER. Nobody will do it.
But what if they don’t have to?
Ya see, up until yesterday I pictured my future customers buying my course before their trip, going through it and learning it all before they left. It’s only 5 situations. 5-10 words each situation…with video, audio and PDF’s of me actually putting it to use in real life.
But as I sat there watching Benny blabber away in Arabic, it all hit me! Not only was I picturing my future customers wrong–I was making the course wrong! I was making it harder for them to use, harder for me to make and less effective for everybody. Here’s the deal:
Benny sells a guide that I bought last year called the Language Hacking Guide. One of Benny’s biggest beliefs is you just have to get out there and practice from day 1. He suggests if you need a SIM card, you should just learn the words you need for the phone store: minutes, messages, numbers, gigabytes, prepaid, passport, whatever and then you go to the phone store right then and get your SIM card!
This matches what I do in real life and what I wholeheartedly believe is the most effective way to actually use a language in the streets–but for some reason I hadn’t implemented it into my own course. Until now…
Instead of just the 5 most common situations, my course is now gonna cover over a dozen different situations. Instead of limiting each situation to 5-10 words, I’m gonna use really basic Spanish–just enough to communicate effectively. But then I’m also gonna give you even more basic versions. You don’t need to conjugate a verb right or use the correct accent to get your point across…
Imagine somebody with a thick Spanish accent approaches you and says: "I food want." or "Food want me." You know exactly what he means. The same is true when it’s the other way around.
My point is: conjugate it right, wrong or not at all. Put the words in the wrong order. It doesn’t matter. As long as you get a few key words out, you’ll get exactly what you want.
And since nobody was gonna memorize my whole course anyway, now I’m designing it so there’ll be a library of all the situations (modules?) and you can just go through and use the ones you want, when you want. If you’re about to leave your hotel and find a supermarket, you can watch the "asking directions" video and the "going to the supermarket" video. It will be available as a video, audio and PDF with all the vocab you can use. Eventually (soon) I’ll make sure it’s available as a physical product (book/dvd/cd) and an app on Android and iPhone.
With this new path, my course isn’t gonna just be a language course, it’s gonna be a "How to do it FOR REAL" course. You’re not gonna just get the words and videos of me doing it all–you’ll see step-by-step how everything works in Spain: How you pay the bus driver, how you get a train ticket, how you buy a half a pound (or half a kilo) of jamon serrano. You know, the important stuff.
With "Thrival Guide: Spain" you’ll not only feel more comfortable in all situations during your trip/vacation–you’ll be willing to get yourself into all kinds of situations you wouldn’t have before.
We’ll talk soon.